The European Union has suspended sanctions on Myanmar, rewarding the government for its reform efforts. It has, however, left in place an arms embargo.
EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg agreed to a one-year suspension of trade, economic and individual sanctions against Myanmar on Monday. An embargo on arm sales to the one-time pariah state, which is also known as Burma, remained in effect.
The move is meant to support sweeping reforms enacted by the government of President Thien Sein that culminated in the election of pro-democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi to parliament on April 1.
"The European Union has followed with respect and appreciation the historic changes in Myanmar/Burma over the past year," a statement adopted by the ministers said. "As a means to welcome and encourage the reform process, the Council will suspend restrictive measures imposed on the government, with the exception of the arms embargo, which it will retain."
The sanctions target nearly 500 individuals and more than 800 companies, but have been undermined by Asian countries, including China and India with strong business ties to Myanmar.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague underlined the fact that the suspension was temporary.
"We remain very concerned about conflict and human rights abuses in some ethnic areas of Burma," Hague said.
Earlier in the day, Suu Kyi and members of her National League of Democracy refused to appear for the opening session of parliament. The 37 NLD members had rejected making a required pledge to safeguard the constitution passed by the military junta in 2010. They had been voted into parliament in by-elections on April 1.
ncy/pfd (AFP, AP)